Reach­ing out to refugees

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON

The plight of Syr­ian refugees strug­gling to start a new life, with many dy­ing as they at­tempt to flee a war-torn coun­try ruled by an op­pres­sive gov­ern­ment, has touched peo­ple all over the world.

Al­ready, many peo­ple in New­found­land and Labrador have stepped up to spon­sor fam­i­lies, with thou­sands of refugees stranded in Europe with no place to go.

For Court­ney How­ell, an en­tre­pre­neur and mother in Grates Cove with a young fam­ily, the trou­bling sit­u­a­tion for those try­ing to leave Syria was alarm­ing for her­self and her hus­band, Ter­rence How­ell.

“It’s some­thing Ter­rence and I talked about,” said Court­ney, co-owner of Grates Cove Stu­dios. “It’s im­por­tant for us to ex­pose (our daugh­ter) Phoenix — she’s a global ci­ti­zen. She just doesn’t know it yet.”

In con­ver­sa­tions with a num­ber of other cou­ples and in­di­vid­u­als they know, it was agreed as a group they would put in the time to raise the $10,000 needed to spon­sor a fam­ily. That money should look af­ter the fam­ily’s ba­sic needs for the first year, and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment will match liv­ing ex­penses for the first six months.

The How­ells have two rental homes in the com­mu­nity and will re­serve one of them for the fam­ily, un­less it be­comes ap­par- ent they need a more spa­cious home.

Join­ing the How­ells in the en­deav­our are David and Sherry Jenkins of Western Bay, Jesse and Trudy Bown of Car­bon­ear, Rob and Deb Har­ley of Grates Cove and Joy Matthews of Car­bon­ear.

“Part of what we do here is just talk with peo­ple, and when the Syr­ian cri­sis was hap­pen­ing, it’s just one of the things we talked about,” said Court­ney.

The Bowns and Jenkins help sup­port a school in Rwanda and have even trav­elled to the coun­try over the years, so they were more than will­ing to lend their sup­port to a good cause, as was Matthews.

They got in touch with the As­so­ci­a­tion for New Cana­di­ans and learned about what needed to hap­pen to pre­pare for wel­com­ing a refugee fam­ily. They hoped for an ear­lier start on fundrais­ing, but there was some un­cer­tainty ear­lier this year as to how the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment would pro­ceed with ac­cept­ing and sup­port­ing refugees.

Money raised will go into a Guar­an­teed In­vest­ment Cer­tifi­cate ac­count specif­i­cally for the fam­ily through the As­so­ci­a­tion for New Cana­di­ans. The group ex­pects a fam­ily of four-to-five peo­ple will be come, with chil­dren likely a part of that equa­tion.

“Peo­ple are al­ready do­nat­ing bikes and things for the fam­ily,” said Court­ney. “It’s get­ting very real and ex­cit­ing.”

The Grade 6 class at TriCon El­e­men­tary in Bay de Verde, where the How­ell’s seven-yearold daugh­ter at­tends classes, do­nated just over $200 raised through a bake sale.

The Har­leys also do­nated a car to the fam­ily. Court­ney ex­pects they’ll need to raise a bit more than $10,000 to also cover in­sur­ance for the ve­hi­cle.

Fri­day, June 17, Grates Cove Stu­dios will host a fundraiser fea­tur­ing a slew of lo­cal en­ter­tain­ers, in­clud­ing the Har­leys, The Salty Top Boys, Wayne But­ton, Ju­nior Butt, Han­nah Froude and oth­ers. There’ll be games of chance, a si­lent auc­tion, and door prizes. Pro­ceeds from a free will of­fer­ing will sup­port the spon­sor­ship fund.

The group has also set up a fundrais­ing web­site, which in­cludes more de­tails on how peo­ple can con­trib­ute to the spon­sor­ship fund.

“We just de­cided to try and help.” Court­ney How­ell

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

The Har­leys and How­ells are look­ing for­ward to wel­com­ing a fam­ily of Syr­ian refugees to Grates Cove later this year. They’re part of a group rais­ing funds to spon­sor a fam­ily flee­ing the war-torn coun­try. Pic­tured (from left) are Rob and Deb Har­ley and Ter­rence, Court­ney and seven-year-old Phoenix How­ell.

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